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Focus on leadership, engagement

Wednesday January 14, 2015 Written by 
Employee engagement and leadership are the two most significant challenges to workforce productivity in 2015.

These two factors were identified as the top areas of focus in 2015 for the 442 human resource professionals across Canada who completed a recent survey from Morneau Shepell.

"In our 60-Second Survey, 43 per cent of respondents cited employee engagement as the major impediment to higher productivity and about one in five employers (22 per cent) named leadership," said Stephen Liptrap, executive vice-president with Morneau Shepell. "The challenge that employers face is in knowing how to address these issues effectively in order to increase productivity."

The key to maximizing employee engagement and productivity is to start with a solid foundation.

"Ensuring that your workplace is healthy before embarking on other initiatives to drive engagement and increase productivity is essential," said Liptrap. "Otherwise, you run the risk of having employees who are highly productive for a while, but eventually burn out. This leads to job dissatisfaction, increased turnover and disability."

A healthy workplace also goes beyond employee fitness.

"Physical health and safety is one component," Liptrap stated. "But creating a work environment that manages risks to mental health is a necessary first step to engagement. Employees aren't going to be interested in helping the organization achieve goals if they're too stressed or depressed to come to work."

Many survey respondents understand the significance of good employee mental health in increasing productivity, with almost five times as many planning to focus on workplace mental health over physical health in 2015.

Liptrap has two recommendations for organizations wishing to create a healthy workplace: "First, reduce the stigma of mental illness by building awareness and educating leaders, managers and co-workers around mental health triggers and treatment. Second, ensure that support services, such as an employee and family assistance program that integrates with other benefit plans, are in place to help employees with personal and professional stress as well as mental health conditions. Once you have a healthy workplace, then you've created the foundation necessary for higher employee engagement and increased productivity."

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